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Kill the Dead: A Sandman Slim Novel Hardcover – October 5, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
James Stark, antihero of 2009's Sandman Slim, returns in this gritty, over-the-top tale of supernatural mayhem. Having taken his revenge on the rival magician who got him sent to Hell, Stark settles in sorcery-infested Los Angeles and gets a part-time gig with the Golden Vigil, an angelic hit squad of dubious morality that's somehow allied with Homeland Security. He spends the rest of his time as a freelance slayer of monsters. When Lucifer comes to Earth, supposedly to oversee a Hollywood biopic of his life, he hires Stark to be his bodyguard, but something isn't quite right and soon the city is awash in murderous zombies. Stark has to get to the bottom of the mystery or risk being sent back to Hell, along with everyone he cares about. Profane, intensely metaphoric language somehow makes self-tortured monster Stark sympathetic and turns a simple story into a powerful noir thriller.
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“Powerful, entertaining and exotically profane.” (San Diego Free Press)
“…endlessly inventive and high-octane…Kadrey’s an excellent writer who’s able to juggle all of it without dropping a single pin.” (Locus)
“Think Get Shorty meets Hellraiser.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
“Everything a sequel should be; that is, more. … There’s hardly a moment where you’re not chewing your fingernails to the wrist wondering what happens next. … Kadrey is a hell of a writer, versatile and seasoned, and these pulpy, dark, ultraviolent novels are his best work yet.” (Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing)
“James Stark, antihero of 2009’s Sandman Slim, returns in this gritty, over-the-top tale of supernatural mayhem…Profane, intensely metaphoric language somehow makes self-tortured monster Stark sympathetic and turns a simple story into a powerful noir thriller.” (Publishers Weekly on KILL THE DEAD)
“What’s best displayed by Kill the Dead is Kadrey’s snappy prose. From the first lines...you know you’re in for a Chandler-meets-the-undead treat.” (Locus)
“Hilarious … belongs up there with Dresden Files and Felix Castor novels. … some of the best supernatural buddy comedy ever created. ... This is that rare sequel that’s actually better than the first book (which was plenty great) and manages to take several leaps forward.” (io9.com)
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It doesn't necessarily go as planned.
By the time we get to the second book, Lucifer has come to LA to produce a movie to "set the record straight" concerning his rebellion in Heaven. Stark, the Sandman Slim, is pressed into service as Lucifer's bodyguard. And then there's the murders of prominent Sub Rosa (magic welding) families. Suddenly, Stark is neck deep in an LA overrun with the walking dead.
Kill the Dead works as an urban fantasy mystery novel. It's dark and gritty. Stark is an anti-hero who is kind of likable. He talks fluent movie quotes. If you are a fan of urban fantasy but haven't read these, check them out. Be aware they rated R (hey, it says so on the cover!) and contain violence and adult language.
And speaking of covers: those retro movie poster covers are awesome.
Also I am a retentive reader who is irritated by plot and character inconsistencies and after reading these several times, cannot find anything to criticize. I was so impressed I also bought the audible audio books. I've never done this for any books.
The most repetitive and annoying problem extreme sense of continuity. Now I love serials in both book form, and TV. Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy and the Iron Druid Chronicles are just a few that have a very strong sense of continuity between episodes or books. But they also do a good job of bringing you up to speed, either with a quick refresher at the beginning of the episode, or small paragraphs thrown in to remind the reader why things are the way they are. 'Kill the Dead' mentions old characters, events and items and never once explains what they are or their background. I got a third of the way in had to stop and reread the first book just to be able to keep up with the second.
I can say I enjoyed the story a lot, but it feels like there are way to many threads going at once. It wasn't until about 45% into the book (Kindle Edition) that the actual 'Dead' from the title rears its' rotting head. It almost feels like the author had so many ideas for this book and wanted to start some plot strings in this book rather than stick with one main plot point and hold onto other for later novels.
This is a really entertaining book if you start it IMMEDIATELY after the first one and you can get over the multiple plot points. If you wait to long between editions though, it will make it more frustrating than worthwhile.